IPSHA evolved from small gatherings of Headmasters which met in an informal manner through the fledgling New South Wales Branch, which called itself the Junior Schools' Conference, to an association that today has over 380 Members across the six states of Australia. As well there are over 20 Overseas Members and 70 Associate, Honorary State Life and Honorary Federal Life Members. Members' schools are now responsible for educating around 125,000 children.
In September 1952, due to the work of people such as E. C. Rowland, David Bradshaw, Edward Dixon and Bob Gilchrist, a conference was held at Cranbrook, Sydney, where a constitution was agreed upon for the establishment of the Junior Schools' Conference of Australia. This was the beginning of the Association.
Biennial Conference and Refresher Schools were held on a rotating basis of Sydney, Melbourne, and other cities until 1978 when the Conference shifted to Canberra. Having broken the sequence it was thereupon agreed that the Conference should henceforth be hosted on a regular state rota.
IPSHA grew and matured through the 1960s and 1970s, increasing in membership and the array of Branch activities, gradually providing more ways for members, their schools and staffs to co-operate and share ideas.
At the biennial Conference in Perth in 1984 the Constitution was amended and the Heads of Independent Girls' Schools became eligible for membership of IPSHA, which at the time was then known as the Junior School Heads' Association of Australia (JSHAA). Along with this name change came eligibility for membership for Heads of co-educational schools, thus providing a considerable boost to membership. Another historic event at this Conference was the relationship between AHISA and JSHAA which was formally acknowledged as not being one of patronage of the former to the latter, but of independence and complete autonomy for the JSHAA.
It could be said that it was at this point that the Association came of age and consequently there emerged a radical change of thinking by many members about the future and purpose of IPSHA. As an autonomous, Australia-wide body of significant proportions it sought to become an important voice on issues related to primary education throughout the nation. Much has been achieved through co-operation and affiliation with other bodies such as AGPPA (Australian Government Primary Principals' Association) and ACPPA (Australian Catholic Primary Principals' Association) – where IPSHA, numerically the smallest of the three partners, receives equal rights.
The name Independent Primary School Heads of Australia (IPSHA) was endorsed and officially embraced at the 2008 Conference held in South Australia. The name IPSHA brings our Association into line with other peak primary school bodies and more clearly reflects the nature of membership, together with the Goals and Objectives of the Association.
IPSHA members are actively involved in state and national education organisations and have strong levels of representation on bodies such as the National Executive Council of the Australian Primary Principals' Association (APPA), the Council of Principals Australia (previously known as APAPDC), the Australian College of Educators (ACE), the Australian Council for Educational Leadership (ACEL), and others. In this way they meet one of their goals which is to have influence on the direction and development of primary education in Australia.
IPSHA continues to expand, develop and meet with success as it provides even greater avenues for close and meaningful contact between its members.